Citations are defined as “mentions” of your business name and address on other webpages, even if there is no link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online yellow pages directory where your business is listed, but not linked to. It can also be a local chamber of commerce, or a local business association where your business information can be found, even if they are not linking at all to your website . You may also see the term “web references” used on other websites—a synonym for “citations”.
Citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms of the major search engines. Other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.
Citations from well-established and well-indexed portals (like Superpages.com for example) help increase the degree of certainty the search engines have about your business’s contact information and categorization. To paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals’ coach Dennis Green, citations help search engines confirm that businesses “are who we thought they were!”
Citations are particularly important in less-competitive niches (like plumbing or electrical) where many service providers don’t have websites themselves. Without much other information, the search engines rely heavily on whatever information they can find!
Citations also validate that a business is part of a community. It’s hard for someone to fake membership in a chamber of commerce or a city or county business index, or to be written about in a local online newspaper or popular blog. Citations (and links) from these kinds of websites can dramatically improve your Local search engine rankings.
Currently, the ‘Web Pages’ tab of your Google Local Business Listing is the most complete list of your citations, though Google probably doesn’t show every single one it knows about.